During the Civil War, the Tucker-Sherrard Company of Lancaster, in Dallas County, contracted with the State of Texas to manufacture 3,000 “Texas Dragoon Revolver’ copies of Colt revolvers at $40 each-1,500 would be .44 Army caliber Dragoon revolvers, and 1,500 would be .36 caliber Navy revolvers; all built on frames copied from Colt Dragoon revolvers. Advances totaling $10,000 were paid to the company, but it was unable to fill the contract which was finally canceled. Reasons for failure to meet the contract were shortages of material and workers (able-bodied men were drafted into the Confederate Army), and wartime inflation.
Four hundred of the partially-completed .44 caliber revolvers were later finished and sold, and some were used in the latter phases of the war. After the war ended, the Dallas Herald advertised the guns for sale at $20 each. Only a few surviving weapons are known to exist today. They are now described as “The Most-Wanted Confederate Firearm.” They were marked with a Lone Star and “Texas Arms.” Modern copies have since been made and sold. No Navy caliber guns were made.
The little foundry and gun factory was located onWest Main Street in Lancaster, and was torn down in 1906. The Veterans Memorial Library was later erected on the site. Tucker-Sherrard and Company was formed by Laban E. Tucker and his son, Argyle W. Tucker, Joseph H. Sherrard, W. L. Killen, and Pleasant Taylor of Dallas and Lancaster. The Tuckers had previously made a few guns at Marshall, Texas, before moving to Lancaster. The name Tucker-Sherrand was later changed to “Sherrard, Taylor and Company,” then to “Clark, Sherrard and Company” after the Civil War.
“Colonel” John M. Crockett, Dallas Mayor in 1857 and Texas Lieutenant Governor in 1861, was plant superintendent. Alonzo S. Clark was plant foreman. Sherrard, whose name was in all three company titles, was the plant blacksmith. L. S. Perkins was the gun engraver. Other of the plant’s 30 employees were Jim Cary, who left to join the Confederate army; Clark, who lived in Lancaster until he died; J. H. Fitzsimmons, a dentist; J. Paul Henry of LaReunion; Virgil Keller, who left to join the army and was killed during the war, Thomas J Kemble; John M. Oram, a watchmaker; John Rape; Pleasant K. Rawlins; Daniel Tetterington; and George White. Pleasant Taylor, a merchant, lived at 313 Griffin Street in Dallas in 1883. Ronald Hawpe, George Record, Pleasant Taylor and George White all later appeared in the book Proud Heritage, Vol. I, published in Dallas in 1986.
Miles eastward from the Lancaster Gun Plant was the “Confederate States Ordinance Works” at Tyler, Texas. There in 1864-65, nearly 2,000 rifles were manufactured, and those also have become scarce collector’s items. One type was marked “Texas Rifle, Tyler, Cal .57” and “C. S.” Another was marked “Hill Rifle, Tyler, Tex. Cal .54” and “C. S. 1864.” These guns were 43- inches long with a 28-inch rifled barrel.
Note: The Tucker-Sherrard gun is now a collectors item.
By Earl O. Cullum for Proud Heritage, Vol II by Dallas County Pioneer Association.